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Sutherland courthouse
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In "No Hatch courthouse" (Forum, July 25), David Michaels makes a good point: "There ought to be laws against naming government buildings for living persons."

Generations hence have to live with the naming decision, so before we attach a person's name to a building there should be time for historical judgment and diminishment of politics.

That Salt Lake's federal buildings were named after recent Sens. Wallace Bennett and Frank Moss makes the point. Yes, they were fine men, but their names were selected over fine and prominent Utah senators of previous generations, say Reed Smoot, George Sutherland or Elbert Thomas, because Bennett and Moss were still alive with friends who could pull strings for them.

The point is especially made in the 1990 decision to name the old federal courthouse after Moss. After all, the building was constructed during the tenures of Sutherland and Smoot.

The naming tradition shouldn't be used to feed the egos of living politicians (there's plenty of that); it should confer deserved, long-term honor, something that takes a generation or more to determine. That's why the proposal to name the new federal courthouse after Sen. and Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland makes sense now.

Samuel Clayton


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